British soldiers 'posed for photos' with suspected killers

Corporal Brent McCarthy (left) and Lance Corporal Lee Davies
Image caption Cpl McCarthy and L/Cpl Davies were part of a group advising and training Afghan forces

British soldiers killed by two members of the Afghan police force had been posing for pictures with their suspected killers shortly before the attack, an inquest has heard.

Cpl Brent McCarthy, 25, and L/Cpl Lee Davies, 27, were killed in the attack on 12 May 2012.

They had been part of a British Army patrol advising and training Afghan forces at a base in Helmand province.

The inquest was told there had not been a bad atmosphere before the shooting.

Several photographs were shown at the inquest at Oxfordshire Coroners Court, including one of Cpl McCarthy, from Telford, Shropshire, with one of the police officers and another showing both Afghans posing with their AK47 rifles.

'Good relationship'

The British patrol had gone to the police base in the Lashkar district to meet local police officials.

Cpl McCarthy, who was an RAF policeman, was acting as a specialist adviser.

However, a short while after the patrol arrived, there was a burst of gunfire that left both Cpl McCarthy and L/Cpl Davies - who was born in Carmarthen and grew up in Cardigan - fatally injured.

Image caption The suspects were photographed on Cpl McCarthy's camera

Both were quickly evacuated but were later pronounced dead.

The two suspected killers were seen running out of the base's main gate and across fields by another British soldier who managed to shoot at one of them.

Guardsman Joshua Foley, of the Welsh Guards, said the training group had had a "good relationship" with the Afghans but when they arrived that afternoon a new local police force had moved onto the base and there were several unfamiliar faces.

When asked by the coroner for Oxfordshire, Darren Salter, whether he had picked up on any warning signs of any heightened risk of a possible attack by the Afghan forces, Guardsman Foley said the so-called atmospherics had been "fine".

As he stood with L/Cpl Davies, who was a member of the 1st battalion Welsh Guards, and Cpl McCarthy, two Afghan policemen passed them near the main entrance to the base and there was an attempt by the British soldiers to strike up some "banter".

"We tried to have a laugh with them but they didn't seem to get it," Guardsman Foley told the coroner.

'Rapid' gun fire

However, the soldiers then produced a camera and the Afghans agreed to have some photos taken, including with Cpl McCarthy and Guardsman Foley.

Guardsman Foley described how L/Cpl Davies then made a disparaging comment about one of the Afghans to him.

Guardsman Foley did say, though, that he did not think either of the Afghans heard the comment and pointed out they seemed to understand very little, if any, English.

He then left Cpl McCarthy and L/Cpl Davies with the police officers to take up duty in one of the base's guard towers.

"I heard a rapid burst of shots, and as I looked I saw the two Afghan police holding their weapons and L/Cpl Davies was lying back," Guardsman Foley said.

"I did not see the Afghan police fire any shots but they both ran out of the main entrance."

He was asked if the two men he saw running from the base were the same two he had been with shortly before, and he confirmed they were.

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